Lifestyle The Arts A Diamond as Big as Kal
A Diamond as Big as Kal
Written by Ms Jan Hallam


FIELDS-OF-GOLD-COVER-3DCover of Fields of Gold.It was night time when a young Dr Charley Nadin arrived in Kalgoorlie in 1983. He was just three days in Australia and had already discovered to his eternal discomfort, courtesy of a daytrip to Rottnest, that the sun burnt more fiercely than in his native Cornwell.

As dawn broke, Charley, who had accepted an “adventure of a lifetime” – a post with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, was ready to take his first good look at the town that would be his home off and on for the next 25 years.

“Kalgoorlie just blew me away – it was like a movie set, I thought I had arrived in Hollywood and I was in the middle of a Western, or maybe that should be an ‘Eastern’ given that Kal is at the centre of the Eastern Goldfields. Grand buildings lined wide, wide streets and there was this intense brightness and clarity of light.”

“I thought of Poet Laureate John Betjeman’s description of the light in Australia as ‘like living in a diamond’. It was quite incredible.”

So began a lifelong fascination with Kalgoorlie and the Eastern Goldfields, which he has painstakingly documented through the lens of his camera, another of his life’s passions, culminating late last year with the release in the Goldfields of his first photographic book, Fields of Gold, in the city where it all started.

“I’ve been taking images in and around the Goldfields since 1983 but in the past 10-15 years, I started to concentrate on getting a collection of mainly architectural shots. I felt these amazing buildings in such a quirky place, 600km from the sea, were so undervalued yet so magnificent.”

EASTERN-FACADES-MARITANA-STREET Eastern Facades along Maritana Street catch the dawn light

 “The people who designed and built these buildings had such great vision. These guys said, ‘look we're going to be here a long time so we are going to put up a beautiful hotel, in the best stone I can possibly find’. The whole place is full of buildings that ooze confidence and magnificence.”

Charley describes his medical practice in the Goldfields as Tours of Duty.

“Sometimes, medically, I felt I was on the front line. You can feel on your own ‘up there’. There is a hospital but you don’t have the support of the clever stuff in Perth. I spent 20 years in three jobs – RFDS, Public Health and then I spent the longest time there as a GP/anaethetist up until 2007. My two girls were born there and my wife (a Boyup Brook farmer’s daughter who is a cardiothoracic trained nurse) and I built our lives there.”

“I’ve always taken photographs. I’d wander around the town at 5am or the late evening to get the beautiful light. Some mornings with the sun on the walls, even the buildings looked like they were made from gold.”

“Some of the best stories from my life and some of the best people I’ve met have been during by time in the Eastern Goldfields. There are some incredible people working and living there.”

Charley is planning a city launch of Fields of Gold next month to coincide with the 120th anniversary of Paddy Hannan finding gold near Kalgoorlie, setting off the Gold Rush. For details of the launch and to buy the book, go to

Goldfields GP shortage

Every boom puts resources of our mining centres under pressure. And the Goldfields is no exception, where there has been a serious shortage of GPs.

Rural Health West has since November been working with a local Kalgoorlie-Boulder- Kambalda committee to try and attract doctors to the region both on a short and long-term basis.

So far three new doctors have begun practice and 10 doctors are progressing through their applications, of which nine are being case managed by Rural Health West.

If you are interested in working the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, please contact Rural Health Select on 6389 4500 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .